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>> couric: tonight, two weeks into japan's disaster and it just keeps getting worse. the death toll passes 10,000 and now there may be a breach in one of the nuclear reactors. i'm katie couric. also tonight, the united states may be giving up command of the libya mission, but american forces will still be playing a major role in the operation. the fire that woke up the country to dangers in the workplace. and a population explosion. the colorful comeback of the monarch butterfly. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. japan's prime minister says the
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nuclear crisis is far from over and the goal right now, he says, is simply to keep it from getting worse. but it did today with a possible breach of one of the reactors. it was two weeks ago that they were damaged when a magnitude nine earthquake shook northern japan and triggered a tsunami. the official death toll passed the 10,000 mark today. 17,000 people are still missing. and now the japanese government has expanded the voluntary evacuation zone around the fukushima daiichi plant from 12 miles to 19 miles. from tokyo, here's bill whitaker >> reporter: these are new pictures out today of fukushima daiichi reactor number three, the most severely damaged unit. an explosion three days into the crisis left the outer shell a tangled web. now there are growing concerns. could the explosion have cracked the reactor vessel itself, allowing radioactive water to leak out? >> we are sorry but we can't tell. but it has... it is one
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possibility. >> reporter: it's one possibility. >> one possibility. >> reporter: does that concern you? >> of course. >> reporter: what set off alarm bells? the men behind this tarp-- two workers from the plant now in a secure ride logical facility. they were rushed to a hospital yesterday with severe radiation burns on their feet and legs after stepping in water outside reactor three. the water had radiation levels 10,000 times higher than normal. still, officials urge calm. >> >> reporter: true or not, the government expanded the evacuation zone from 12 to 19 miles, urging but not ordering people to leave. many are confused. "i don't understand" she says. "if all the villagers decide to
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move out, i will follow them." others are furious. "they evacuated people to shelters, then they say move out. i'm so angry" he says. today the prime minister called this nuclear crisis grave and serious. "we are not in a position where we can be optimistic" he said. "we must remain vigilant." late today, the plant operator, ten co, said highly radioactive watter is now a problem at a second reactor. if the problem worsens, officials say they will expand the mandatory evacuation zone. katie? >> couric: bill whitaker, bill, thanks very much. james acton with the carnegie endowment for international peace is a physicist and expert on nuclear safety. james, do you think the high levels of radiation found in the turbine room outside reactor three means the steel container enclosing the core has been damaged? >> good evening katie. the answer to that is at the
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moment i don't know. but we have been receiving evidence all day and i would say that the location of where the water is, the fact that the pressure vessel is reported to be holding pressure, the fact that radiation on the site has been fluctuating but not rising all suggest to me that on balance it is more likely that the leak has occurred from somewhere else other than the reactor pressure vessel. but it's not clear. >> couric: the japanese government, meanwhile, is now encouraging evacuations in a wider area than originally proposed, as we have just heard. should people were closer than that 19-mile radius be worried now? >> you know, i think as a matter of fact they will be worried. the situation is volatile and the situation is dangerous. i think it's worth emphasizing that there's already 500,000 displaced people without adequate food, water, or shelter in japan at the moment. so broadening the evacuation zone comes at a very high cost for the evacuees themselves.
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>> couric: and a day after we heard that radiation levels in tokyo drinking water were unsafe, today the government says they're fine again. how do these levels change so quickly? >> well, katie, there's a number of factors that are simultaneously operating. if the amount of radiation entering the water has drop there had will be less radiation in the water. because the radiation in the water is, a, decaying and, b, dispersing. so it doesn't surprise me that radiation levels in the water are changing significantly on a day-by-day basis. >> couric: the japanese have not been able to get this situation under control, but you remain convinced this will not be another chernobyl. >> i think that's right. to be another chernobyl there would have to be an explosion of the fuel itself and i think that's very unlikely here. >> couric: james acton, james, thanks very much. now to the other developing story overseas, the popular uprisings in the middle east. what started in tunisia, egypt, and libya soon spread to yemen and syria.
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in each country, protestors are demanding change from hard-line governments. in syria, today's protests were the biggest in years. tens of thousands took to the streets. rula amin of al jazeera has this report via skype from damascus. >> reporter: what's significant about today is that the process has spread throughout the country. in daraa there were funerals for those who were killed on wednesday but later on during the day forces started shooting at the people there. in other places they shot at protestors. in one town the security forces are reporting ten people killed and the people there, eyewitnesses say, more than 20. and i think both the people and the government know change is coming to syria, the debate is how. >> couric: in yemen, opposition to president ali abdullah saleh continues to grow even though he's offered to resign. tom finn is a reporter with the yemen "times." >> reporter: there were two sets of demonstrations today,
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rival demonstrations. we had one at the university, sanaa university, where tens of thousands, in fact 70,000 or 80,000 people all gathered for a big friday prayer ceremony. they're remembering the deaths of the 50 protestors who were killed last week and they're calling for president saleh to step down. a few miles away, we had a pro-government demonstration next to the president's mosque. and the president himself made a rare appearance. he basically said that he wanted to step down from power but he was not willing to do it until he was ready to go into someone with a safe pair of hands. >> couric: saleh has ruled yemen for 32 years. he is a key u.s. ally in the fight against al qaeda. meanwhile, president obama plans to speak to the nation monday night about libya to explain why he ordered u.s. military action and give an update on the operation. today french and british jets struck libyan artillery and
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tanks near ajdabiya. smoke could be seen miles away. late today, rebels began a new push to retake the city. and libyan state television showed damage from overnight air strikes in tripoli. nato, which is taking over control of enforcing the no-fly zone, said it's planning for a mission that would last three months. as other nations play a larger role, the u.s. is publicly taking a step back, but it's a small step. more on that from david martin at the pentagon. >> reporter: this is what the battle for libya looks like to a pilot. it's a british pilot attacking a libyan tank. but more than half the 96 strike missions in the past 24 hours were american. and so were all 16 of the tomahawk cruise missiles fired overnight. despite the announcement that nato would soon be taking command of the operation, the mesh military remains indispensable to its success. >> job one is to protect the
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libyan people and the job doesn't change just because we get a new boss. >> reporter: with the number of cruise missile attacks going down, the u.s. has pulled one of its submarines out of the mediterranean. and with the libyan air force knocked out of action, the job of enforcing the no-fly zone is now performed by aircraft from other countries, including these jets from the arab nation of qatar. >> you can also see that the division of labor between the u.s. and our partners has largely evened out. >> reporter: but reducing the percentage of missions flown by u.s. aircraft and handing over command to nato in no way diminishes american responsibility. >> we've never had a significant nato operation in nato's history which the united states has not led and been the offensive, the major offensive force for success. >> reporter: so far, the offensive against qaddafi has not forced his army to retreat. >> we haven't seen it take a large enough effect that it's changing the total effect on the battlefield. >> reporter: the pentagon could actually send in more
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warplanes, including air force gun ships to attack qaddafi's army. katie? >> couric: david martin, thank you, david. dr. richard haas is president of the council on foreign relations, a nonpartisan think tank. richard, how is the u.s. role in this operation changing? >> well, the united states has worked with others in getting this no-fly zone established, but clearly the operation is changing in two ways: one, it's going beyond the narrow no-fly zone, increasingly it's attacking a wider set of targets and also the united states is trying to take a step back, not quite so dominant on the military side and essentially spreading it around more to its nato allies. >> couric: there's been a lot of criticism, as you know, on capitol hill that the mission has not been clearly defined. do you think the president hasn't done a good job in that department? >> well, the president has a problem here where there's some tension in the mission. on one hand, it's get-to-get mr. qaddafi to accept a cease-fire which implies that if he were to do so he could remain
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in place. on the other hand, the united states has gone beyond the u.n. resolution and has called explicitly for his ouster. >> couric: the administration has pledged they will have no place in this conflict. can you envision any scenario where that might change? >> well, it's interesting. the u.n. resolution specifically rules out what it describes as an international occupation force. but imagine the rebels were to win and the government falls. you will need some sort of an international force, i would think, to maintain order. or imagine you have a cease-fire. you will need some sort of apeacekeeping force. so whether the u.s. joins it or not, my hunch is the day will come when you will need an international military presence in libya. >> couric: do you think that this could evolve into a pretty serious civil war among all these fighters? >> i think it has that potential. we really don't know exactly who it is we're helping and what their agenda may ultimately be. so as bad as mr. qaddafi has been and is, the alternatives are not necessarily benign or
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goode they are for the united states or for the libyan people. >> couric: richard haas from the council on foreign relations. dr. hawses, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> couric: still ahead on the "cbs evening news," the town didn't survive the tsunami but amazingly, nearly everyone in it did. and how a labor movement rose out of the ashes of a deadly fire.
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>> couric: it was 100 years ago today one of the darkest days in the history of new york city, the day the triangle shirt waist factory went up in flames. today hundreds gathered in downtown manhattan to honor the 146 people who died in the fire. michelle miller reports the tragedy was a turning point for improving working conditions in this country. >> reporter: it was 4:40 p.m. saturday, march 25, 1911 when the triangle shirt waist factory became an inferno. inside the top three floors of this building in downtown manhattan 500 men and women-- mostly women, mostly immigrants... were stitching their way to a few life in america. hunched over sew magazines making blouses called shirt waists, they were about to finish a day's hard labor. >> a cutter was smoking a
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cigarette and apparently one of the cigarettes dropped and there's lawn-- which kind of a dhin cotton-- and the lawn spread the fire very, very quickly. >> reporter: as flames swallowed the factory, the crowd below saw women jump from the upper windows. firemen's ladders were too short and fire escapes buckled and cracked. at least one door was said to be locked. >> this is the jewish daily forward from the day after the fire and you can see the headline says (speaking yiddish) "the morgue is full of our victims, who is responsible? ". >> reporter: 146 people died. >> the average age was 21. >> reporter: michael hirsch, a coproducer of an hbo documentary on the fire says the owners and the city were to blame. >> the reason these people died was because there just was almost no regulation of the workplace. >> reporter: as thousands joined to mourn the dead, horror turned to outrage. >> this fire really shook people
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up. the city was so guilt stricken that maybe we were somehow responsible. >> reporter: investigations and commissions led to dozens of new labor and safety laws, including workmen's compensation, child labor laws, and tougher fire codes. it galvanized the early labor movement. as the names on the tombstones fade, hirsch has made it his mission to tell their stories and track down their descendents. >> fanny was, in fact, a heroine of the fire. >> reporter: he found eric la lansner. >> she kept guiding them into the elevator as it made numerous trips up and down to. think of a 21-year-old, knowing she had minutes to live and chose to put others ahead of herself, when i read the articles, i said, wow, this is kind of stock i come from. >> reporter: this on this centennial, those long gone remind us this was a moment when people demanded change and got
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>> couric: it's the first week of spring and monarch butterflies are leaving their winter nomex co, beginning a journey that will take them over several generations, all the way to canada. the first of the migrating monarchs have been spotted in south texas. last year, seth doane reported their population was down 75%. but tonight he tells us they're
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making a comeback. >> reporter: hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies cluster for warmth in these trees every winter. we were clearly impressed when we visited mexico last year. there are an estimated 250 million monarch butterflies that winter in this preserve. that sounds like a lot, it certainly looks like a lot. but the butterfly population we saw was actually at an all-time recorded low as overdevelopment and illegal logging decimated the forests. this year, the trees were dripping in butterflies and the skies filled with millions more monarchs. butterfly colonies covered nearly ten acres of forest-- double the area last year. conservationist bill toone says that's great news, but... >> all that has to be kept in perspective with the fact that last year was the lowest number of butterflies in mexico since we started recording in 1993.
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>> reporter: why the rebound? the mexican government has made progress fighting illegal logging, down 97%. but weather gets most of the credit. this winter, there was no major freeze in central mexico and a good spring last year in america produced a robust crop of milk weed, the solitary food source for monarch caterpillars. monarch experts who gathered in kansas say these butterflies help pollinate hundreds of plant species. >> probably more than a billion. >> reporter: but lincoln brower, who we first met in mexico, worries about modern farming techniques. >> part of the impact on monarchs now is industrialized agriculture which is destroying the milk weed food plant habitat, the breeding habitat of the butterfly. >> reporter: 140 million acres of milkweed have been lost in the last 16 years in the u.s., an area three times the size of illinois. another test of this tiny insect's resilience.
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seth doane, cbs news, new york. >> couric: in health news, the f.d.a. today approved the first drug shown to extend the lives of people with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. it's an injection called yervoy, it uses the body's immune system to help patients live an average of four months longer than those who take conventional skin cancer medications. and coming up next, miracles in the madness. they survived the tsunami but their town did not. if so, now's the time to talk to your doctor again, even if you're already taking medication to reduce your stroke risk. atrial fibrillation can cause a blood clot to form here, in your heart, that can break free and go straight to your brain, where it can cause a serious stroke. strokes that are twice as likely to be deadly or severely disabling as other types of strokes. but if you're one of the 2 million people who have atrial fibrillation,
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there's never been a better time to talk to your doctor. because you and your doctor can choose from different kinds of medicines to help prevent a stroke. for a free interactive book, call 1-877-afib-stroke, or log-on to and with this valuable information in your hand, talk to your doctor. add listerine® total care for more complete oral care. ♪ it works in six different ways to restore enamel, strengthen teeth, freshen breath, help prevent cavities, and kill bad breath germs for a whole mouth clean. so go beyond the brush with listerine® total care. the most complete mouthwash. and for visibly whiter teeth, try listerine® total care plus whitening.
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>> couric: and finally tonight, when the ground started shaking in japan two weeks ago, the clock started ticking down to that devastating tsunami. it would be 24 minutes before the first waves hit shore. two towns reacted very differently in the emergency and lucy craft shows us it would mean the difference between life and death. >> reporter: erika iwabuchi can't find where her house once stood in koizumi. but her town is remarkably fortunate. out of 1,800 residents, only 42 people are missing or dead here. unlike in neighboring minamisanriku crick where more than half the population of
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17,000 perished. when the wave came, 69-year-old toichi sato got his wife to safety and tried to do the same for his 91-year-old mother. "i was holding tight on to my mother but we were swept away" he says. "i was saved because my foot got hooked around a tree." his mother didn't make it, but in this once-vibrant town, she is the exception. this town was wiped virtually off the map. the people here say they owe their survival to a combination of geography and timing. most of all, they say, they were ready. "when there's a big quake" says this woman "we head for high ground. we know exactly where to go because we practice." practice drills several times a year that led them up this nearby hill to safety. "when you start to feel a violent shaking" she says "you
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have to flee. that's what saved us. and though suddenly homeless and still lacking in basics like electricity, this community is thriving, exercising together, caring for each other's children and tending to medical needs as they find a way to cope with disaster. "it's a shock but it's no one's fault. it's the tsunami's fault" sato says. "we have to get on with our lives." here there is no blame, only perseverance and fellowship in the face of so much loss. lucy craft, cbs news, koizumi, japan. >> couric: and that is the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. we leave you with a reminder of the friendship between japan and the united states, the cherry trees presented to washington, d.c. by the mayor of tokyo 99 years ago this weekend. now in full bloom. a delicate symbol of hope and rerule in. good night.,,,,,,
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CBS Evening News With Katie Couric
CBS March 25, 2011 3:30pm-4:00pm PDT

News/Business. Katie Couric. The latest world and national news. New. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Couric 19, U.s. 9, Nato 6, United States 5, Libya 4, Katie 4, Us 3, Mexico 3, Yemen 3, Omnaris 3, Syria 3, Tokyo 3, New York 3, Cbs News 3, Katie Couric 3, The United States 2, Fukushima Daiichi 2, U.n. 2, Pentagon 2, Motrin 2
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